July - November 2023
Some Recent Releases
A few words about recent releases / reviews:
Apart from where they are included in articles on this website, I don't have a 'Reviews' section for a number of reasons:
I receive so many requests to review recordings it is impossible to include them all.
Unlike some publications/blogs, Sandy Brown Jazz is not a funded website and it is not possible to pay reviewers.
Reviews tend to be personal opinions, something a reviewer likes might not suit you, or vice versa.
It is difficult to capture music in words, so much better to be able to listen and see whether the music interests you.
For these reasons in particular I just include a selection of recent recordings below where I share the notes issued by the musician(s) as an introduction and links to samples so you can 'taste' the music for yourselves. For those who like to read reviews, these, of course, can be checked out on other sites.
Some albums are priced in dollars or other currencies. These are marked ^. There are currency options if you proceed to order.
Featured In November 2023
Tobie Medland - The Aviary
(Future Fable Records) - Released: 7th July 2023
Tobie Medland (violin); Sol Grimshaw (acoustic guitar); Bim Williams (electric guitar); Sam Leak (piano); Tom Smith (clarinet); Kit Massey (violin); Helen Sanders-Hewitt (viola); Shirley Smart (cello); Marcus Penrose (double bass)
'Originally founded as a quartet, violinist Tobie Medland’s ‘The Aviary’ grew to include several heavyweights of British Jazz following the success of their debut record ‘Apparitions’. Featuring Sam Leak on piano, Tom Smith on clarinet, and a string section of Kit Massey, Helen Sanders-Hewett and Shirley Smart, the ensemble’s new sound is rich, complex, and full of twists and turns. ‘The Aviary’ aims to transport the listener to a world overrun by fantastical species of birds. As well as representing the personalities and individual tales of these strange avians, it is also an exploration of the mystery of finding oneself in this world. .......... Rooted in a contemporary spin on gypsy jazz, the ensemble are influenced by 20th Century Classical composers Shostakovich, Debussy and Bartok as well as the likes of Joe Pass, Django Rheinhardt, and Joe Henderson. Juxtaposing atonality, free improvisation, and darkness with jovial melodies, driving swung grooves and bright harmony, their immersive world presents an undeniably fresh perspective on an underappreciated genre.....' (album notes)
Charlotte Keefe - Alive! in the studio
(Discus Music) - Released: 19th September 2023
Charlotte Keeffe (sound brush, trumpet, flugelhorn and compositions); Ashley John Long (double bass); Ben Handysides (drums); Moss Freed (guitar)
'For her second Discus Music release, Charlotte has convened her regular working quartet to explore open ended versions of her compositions which form the basis of their live set. Captured with energy and clarity in the studio, here we have 60 minutes of real group interaction where the music from each player is balanced equally within the total group sound. Charlotte writes: "Charlotte Keeffe’s Right Here, Right Now Quartet featuring Ashley John Long, Ben Handysides and Moss Freed, is a breeding ground for squelchy, sploshy, splashy Sound Brush playing - music-making! …Overtly over-blowing, splitting, splattering, squirming, squeaking and squealing out ALIVE! Howling and hooting, chomping and chaffing… Dusty, distorted, flimsy, fragile, manic, ghostly, guttural sound strokes rip through whirlwinds and whirlpools of wholesome gooey-sound-dough! A turbulent tease, staggering, swaying, abruptly plunging into intentional vagueness… A messy emporium of raw, raucous realness. Alive. Right Here, Right Now. It is as it is…" (album notes)
Yussef Dayes - Black Classical Music
(Brownswood Recordings) - Released: 8th September 2023
Yussef Dayes (drums); Charlie Stacey (keys/synths), Venna (saxophone), Alexander Bourt (percussion) and other guest musicians.
"What is jazz? Where did the word derive from? Birthed in New Orleans, born in the belly of the Mississippi River, rooted in the gumbo pot of the Caribbean, South American culture & African rituals. Continuing a lineage of Miles Davis, Rahssan Roland kirk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong ~ music that is forever evolving & limitless in its potential. The groove, it’s feeling, the compositions, the spontaneity, with a love for family, the discipline & dedication in maintaining the very high bar set by the pantheon of Black Classical Musicians. Chasing the rhythm of drums that imitated one's heartbeat, the melodies for the mind and spirit, the bass for the core. A Regal sound for this body of music." “Black Classical Music” is Dayes 19 track debut solo studio album. At every turn, Dayes distinctive drum licks and Rocco Palladino’s bass are the sturdy anchors; aided by Charlie Stacey (keys/synths), Venna (saxophone), Alexander Bourt (percussion), and a whole host of honourable features including: Chronixx, Masego, Jamilah Barry, Tom Misch, Elijah Fox, Shabaka Hutchings, Miles James, Sheila Maurice Grey, Nathaniel Cross, Theon Cross and the Chineke! Orchestra, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority Black and ethnically diverse musicians......' (album notes).
Harry Diplock Trio - Harry Diplock Trio And Friends
(self release) - Released: 20th October 2023
Harry Diplock (guitar); Remi Oswald (guitar); Pete Thomas (double bass); Featuring guests: Giacomo Smith (clarinet); Joe Webb (piano); Matt Holborn (violin); Kourosh Kanani (guitar)
'Originally starting his journey from Devon to London in 2012 as a guitar builder, Harry soon became part of the UK jazz scene where his love of improvisation took over. Now at the forefront of Django Reinhardt inspired jazz in the UK and co-founder of the London Django Collective, Harry has played all over Europe at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club, Le Duc des Lombards, Torino Jazz Club, Royal Albert Hall and 606 Jazz Club. Harry is also an educator in the style and regularly hosts various workshops and courses at jazz festivals and has shared the stage with some of the best in the scene including Antoine Boyer, Paulus Schafer, Olli Soikelli, Fanou Torracinta, Giacomo Smith, Mathieu Chatelain and Joe Webb.' (album notes)
John Pope Quintet - Citrinitas
(Improvised Music Recordings) - Released: 6th October 2023
John Pope (double bass, percussion); Jamie Stockbridge (alto, baritone saxophones);Faye MacCalman (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Graham Hardy (trumpet, flugelhorn); Johnny Hunter (drum kit, Glockenspiel)
'Citrinitas is the second album from John Pope’s award-winning quintet ....... The name ‘Citrinitas’ comes from the mysterious alchemy of ‘yellowing’ that occurs in compounds, metals, ores, and other substrates and is appropriate as there are many subtleties that change within the music as the tracks develop. From the stellar opener ‘Free Spin’ with its big statement paraphrases and solos to the sensitive exploration of ‘Through The Earth’. All the pieces are new and captured as the quintet performed in Pope’s native Newcastle upon Tyne. Sometimes fiery with unleashed energy and at others swinging, mysterious, and emotive, the music traverses a range of atmospheres, and emotions, the alchemy between the music and musicians serving to create something new. 'The tracks represent a collection of music with spontaneous improvisation around compositional elements at its heart. ‘Citrinitas’ was conceived as a project to explore the potential of recording in performance, and a celebration of community and collaboration..........' (album notes)
Pete Allen Jazz Band - 45th Anniversary Album
(Upbeat Recordings) - Released: 13th October 2023
Pete Allen (clarinet, sax, vocals, banjo), Roger Marks (trombone), Chris Hodgkins (trumpet), James Clemas (keyboard, vocals), Dave Hanratty (bass), Jim Newton (drums)
“I cannot believe that I’ve been leading my band for 45 years! It was on the 1st of October 1978 that my Dad, who played banjo and guitar, and I agreed we should have a go and join the professional ranks of jazz. We invited four other talented musicians to join us – Campbell Burnap trombone, John Armatage drums, Janusz Carmello trumpet, and Tony Bagot bass. At that time we were playing a weekly residency at the Old Wagon and amp; Horses in Newbury’s marketplace but extra gigs were fast filling up the diary as we were prepared to travel the UK to play our kind style of happy jazz! We attracted capacity audiences throughout the clubs and festivals and I must admit our appearances on the BBC popular lunchtime magazine programme ‘Pebble Mill at One’ along with regular plays on BBC Radio Two certainly helped to achieve this. I shall never forget two conversations I had with Kenny Ball. On the first one, he gave me six months but then congratulated me some 30 years later having made a name for myself – without hit records. In those early years, we travelled in an old Ford Transit minibus which Dad had rescued from the scrap yard and put a reconditioned engine under the bonnet. However, after playing a three-week tour of Germany in February 1979 it gave up the ghost as we limped home on three cylinders........." (Pete Allen)
Jim Rattigan - Duos
(Three Worlds Records) - Released: 20th October 2023 [3 CDs]
Jim Rattigan (French horn); Ivo Neame (piano); Nick Costley-White (guitar); Hans Kollder (piano)
'A list of Jim Rattigan’s accomplishments would fill pages, just as his music fills the air with the sheer joy of creativity. One of the world’s foremost exponents of the French horn, he is also one of the few to have convincingly adapted it to jazz. In a career spanning over forty years he’s played in ensembles of every conceivable size and sort, but never had the opportunity to show what the French Horn is capable of in those most stripped-back, quintessential jazz formats: the duo record and the Standards album. The time had come to explore this most demanding but rewarding setting, allowing the full range and versatility of the horn to shine. Rattigan had three collaborators in mind, and set up some informal playing sessions “I said I’ll pop over and we’ll have a play - I fancy playing some standards!” but the creative sparks were soon flying, and the project developed organically until Jim found himself taking three distinct approaches to the initial idea. With pianist Ivo Neame, the playing soon morphed into far-reaching investigations into some unusual re-arrangements and original sketches by both players. With guitarist Nick Costley-White, both players reveled in finding new inspiration within the familiar joys of the Great American Songbook. Finally, pianist/bandleader Hans Koller’s deep knowledge of the canon of fellow pianist Thelonious Monk prompted a deep dive into of some of his key compositions. First came 'Dialogues', the collaboration with Ivo Neame. “I hadn’t played much with Ivo before this project. But I’ve always loved his playing - We set up in his own studio, Wonderland Studio, so there were no time limits, and the album morphed into something else as we played.” The album started with a fortuitous coincidence - Jim wanted to play Wayne Shorter’s ‘Infant Eyes’ and Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Chelsea Bridge’, and Ivo already had his own strikingly original arrangements of those tunes ‘We tried them - they’re challenging, and I love a challenge - and they felt good on the horn!”.......... (album notes).
Eddie Henderson - Witness To History
(Smoke Sessions Records Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Eddie Henderson (trumpet); Donald Harrison (alto saxophone); George Cables (piano & Fender Rhodes); Gerald Cannon (bass); Lenny White (drums); Mike Clark (drums on "Scorpio Rising")
'Trumpet legend Dr. Eddie Henderson celebrates the 50th anniversary of his debut album with a stunning new recording, WITNESS TO HISTORY, reflecting on his musical evolution with pianist George Cables, saxophonist Donald Harrison, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummers Lenny White and Mike Clark. If it hadn’t already been used for a 1950s television series, I LED THREE LIVES might have been an ideal title for the upcoming documentary about Eddie Henderson, who would be a fascinating subject in any one of those lives: as a medical doctor, as a pioneering figure skater, and of course as a legendary jazz musician. As it is, the film is scheduled to premiere on PBS in 2024 under the equally apt title of DR. EDDIE HENDERSON: UNCOMMON GENIUS........ (album notes)
Kris Davis - Diatom Ribbons Live At The Village Vanguard
(Pyroclastic Records) - Released: 1st September 2023
Kris Davis (piano, prepared piano, arturia microfreak synthesizer); Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Val Jeanty (turntables, electronics); Julian Lage (electric guitar); Trevor Dunn (electric bass, double bass)
'All compositions by Kris Davis except “Alice in the Congo” by Ronald Shannon Jackson, “The Dancer” by Geri Allen, and “Dolores” by Wayne Shorter. All arrangements by Kris Davis. “Nine Hats” references “Hat and Beard” by Eric Dolphy and “Study No.9 for Player Piano” by Conlon Nancarrow. “VW” features a 1991 interview with Sun Ra by Jay Green on KPFA’s “Straight No Chaser.” “Bird Call Blues” includes the voices of Olivier Messiaen and Paul Bley and is influenced by Messiaen’s “Petites Esquisses D’Oiseaux.” “Parasitic Hunter” includes the voice of Karlheinz Stockhausen speaking about ‘Intuitive Music’ in a 1972 lecture.' (album notes)
Kurt Elling - SuperBlue : The Iridescent Spree
(Edition Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Kurt Elling (voice); Charlie Hunter (hybrid guitar); DJ Harrison (keyboards); Corey Fonville (drums); Guest Personnel - Elena Pinderhughes (flute on “Black Crow”); Huntertones Horns: (on “Naughty Number Nine”, “Bounce It” and “Not Here / Not Now”)
Jon Lampley (trumpet); Dan White (saxophone & horn arrangements); Chris Ott (trombone)
'SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree is the highly anticipated followup to the 2021 GRAMMY nominated eponymous album, by genre-bending trailblazers Kurt Elling & Charlie Hunter. Joining forces with multi-instrumentalist duo drummer Corey Fonville and bassist-keyboardist DJ Harrison (of Richmond, VA-based jazz-funk fusion quintet Butcher Brown) for a kaleidoscopic collection of new songs, surprising covers, and dynamic reinventions, these are all animated by crafty production, crack musicianship, and Elling’s instantly identifiable vocal prowess. If the first album was a somewhat radical departure for Elling, SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree is more of an exquisite progression upon the template. Equally informed by R&B, neo-soul, classic pop, psychedelic poetry, rowdy funk, and of course jazz in all its many guises, songs like the ebullient, anthemic “Freeman Square” and the simmering, brass-blasted “Not Here/Not Now” are layered with Elling’s inventive lyricism, their supple swing and rhythmic elasticity rife with wit, pathos, and a wry sense of the human experience............ (album notes)
Todd Sickafoose - Bear Proof
(Secret Hatch Records) - Released: 29th September 2023
Ben Goldberg (clarinet); Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Jenny Scheinman (violin); Adam Levy (guitar); Erik Deutsch (piano); Rob Reisch: (accordion); Todd Sickafoose (bass); Allison Miller (drums).
'62 minutes of music for 8 musicians. Intended to be performed straight-through in a concert, it’s captured here “live” in the studio, recorded as one continuous take. We fixed a few notes afterward – including a moment somewhere in the first half where Jenny dropped her bow, and somewhere in the second where I dropped mine. Otherwise, this is exactly how that 62 minutes sounded. A raise of the glass to Adam Muñoz for keeping the tape rolling without interruption at Fantasy Studios (Berkeley, California); and for that matter, to Derk Richardson – who, the night before, encouraged us to play the whole thing live on his KPFA radio program ‘The Hear and Now’. He sat amongst us, lost in his headphones, and chose quiet moments to grin and whisper the requisite station identification – a detail that added to the sense of mischief. The fact that Fantasy has since shuttered its doors, and Derk has retired his long-running show, is a sign that it’s taken us a few years to release this album. And noting these cultural disappearances is apt because, if you’d like, BEAR PROOF can also be: A surreal meditation on BOOM and BUST. Is music perhaps better than words for talking about high times and utter ruin? In California, there’s still a bridge that spells out GOLD HERE. Let these nine song titles lead you in that direction, if you wish' (album notes).
Europe and Elsewhere
Wolfgang Muthspiel - Dance Of The Elders
(ECM Records) - Released: 29th September 2023
Wolfgang Muthspiel (guitar); Scott Colley (double bass); Brian Blade (drums).
'Wolfgang Muthspiel and his trio with Scott Colley on bass and Brian Blade on drums reaches a new creative peak on Dance of the Elders – the group’s follow-up up to the much lauded Angular Blues, which The Times called a “quietly impressive album”. Here Wolfgang’s successful stride continues, with his unique compositional signature on the one hand and the particularly vibrant interchanges with his trio colleagues on the other. The guitarist’s writing and approach to jazz is heavily folk-induced but equally inspired by classical music – both aspects are presented clearly throughout the album. Brian’s floating percussive injections and Scott’s nimble counterpoint on bass complement Wolfgang’s acoustic and electric playing in fluid interplay over intricate polyrhythms and adventurous harmonic landscapes.' (album notes)
Phillip Johnston & The Greasy Chicken Orchestra - I Cakewalked With A Zombie
(Earshift Music) - Released: 14th July 2023
Phillip Johnston (soprano sax); Peter Farrar (alto sax); Tim Clarkson (tenor sax); Jim Loughnan (baritone sax); Peter Dasent ( piano);
Tim Rollinson (guitar, banjo); James Greening (sousaphone); Nic Cecire (drums)
'Sydney-based saxophonist/composer and New York expat Phillip Johnston leads the 8-piece miniature repertory ensemble, The Greasy Chicken Orchestra, through innovative arrangements of jazz of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as his original music reflecting that musical language on their new release, I Cakewalked With a Zombie. This long-evolving project continues Johnston’s exploration of the history of orchestration and composition-focussed ensembles, such as The Microscopic Septet, Big Trouble, and The Silent Six. The group consists of a four-saxophone front line and rhythm section, featuring leading jazz artists from Sydney. The music leaves room for individual expression of its unique soloists and aims to express a combination of freedom and discipline, a love of jazz history and creativity, and the infectious rhythm, mystery and sheer joy of the jazz of this era ..........' (album notes).
Blicher Hemmer Gadd - It will be alright
(C-Nut Records) - Released: 1st September 2023
Michael Blicher (tenor sax); Dan Hemmer (organ); Steve Gadd (drums)
'Creating this album was an immense challenge. After recording the first tracks live, lock-down hit, and for almost three years, it was impossible for us to get together to record. Instead, we met online to work on the music and plan how to finish the album. We ultimately decided that "It Will Be Alright" should include both some amazing live tracks that capture the excitement and energy of our live performances around Europe, as well as two special lockdown-songs recorded in Michael's intimate garden-studio in Copenhagen just after the world began to reopen. We poured our hearts and souls into this music and hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed creating it. Thank you for listening and supporting us through bandcamp.' (album notres)
Espen Berg - The Hamar Concert
(NXN Recordings) - Released: 13rd November 2023
Espen Berg (piano)
'Following the internationally acclaimed improvised solo piano album The Trondheim Concert and the digital album release The Nidaros Concert, NXN Recordings now release The Hamar Concert recorded in front of a live audience at The Hamar Concert Hall. Ranging from the silent and melodic, to the epic and technically brilliant, Espen Berg continues to prove he is a master of improvised piano music.' (album notes)
Phil Woods - Rights Of Swing (Remastered)
(Candid Records) - Released: 2023
Phil Woods (alto sax); Benny Bailey (trumpet); Curtis Fuller, Willie Dennis (trombone); Julius Watkins (French horn); Sahib Shihab (bass); Tommy Flanagan (piano); Buddy Catlett (bass); Osie Johnson (drums)
'When he first came on the scene, Phil Woods was often referred to as "The New Bird," in a nod to the legendary Charlie Parker - A testament to his genius on the saxophone to be sure. But while obviously indebted to Parker - as all modern jazz saxophonists of a certain era were - there is no question that Phil Woods was an original. After earning a degree in music from Juilliard in the early 1950's, Woods found himself in the orbit of the great Quincy Jones. At Jones' invitation Woods joined Dizzy Gillespie's infamous Jazz Ambassadors - a tour sponsored by the US State Department as part of a global cultural diplomacy initiative - and subsequently became a member of Jones' own touring band. This recording, his 9th album as a band leader, consists entirely of Woods' five-part Rights of Swing Suite. An ambitious large-scale composition based solidly on jazz traditions. A culmination of the influences the then 30 year artist had absorbed. Arguably considered one of Woods finest recordings, the record features a stellar section made up of Wood's fellow Quincy Jones band members. (It should be noted that these same musicians, for the most part, are also the section on Benny Bailey's Candid Records recording, Big Brass, recorded a a few months prior in November of 1960). Recorded at the Nola Penthouse Studios in New Your City on two dates in January and February of 1961, and conducted by Quincy Jones.' (album notes)
Flip Phillips - The Clef Years : Classic Albums1952-56
(Acrobat Records) - Released: 2023 [3 CD Box Set]
Flip Phillips (tenor sax) with various personnel including Howard McGhee, Billy Butyterfield, Sweets Edison, Roy Edldridge (trumpet); Bennie Green, Bill Harris, Kai Winding (trombone); Buddy DeFranco (clarinet); Sonny Criss (alto sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); Hank Jones, Lou Levy, Oscar Peterson (piano); Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown, Gene Ramey (bass); Buddy Rich, Jo Jones, Max Roach (drums)
'Flip Phillips was a tenor saxophonist who came to the fore in the post-war era playing with the bands of Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Benny Goodman and Frankie Newton, and was perhaps most famously associated with Norman Granz’ Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts in the late ‘40s and into the 1950s. In the early 1950s he recorded a string of sessions for Norman Granz, leading groups that comprised many different line-ups, with most of the titles coming out a succession of albums on Granz’ Clef label during this era, and being mixed and matched on different LP releases during that time. This great-value 58-track 3-CD collection comprises most of the titles he recorded for Granz at these sessions, mostly presented in the order and format they were released on the albums “Flip Phillips Quartet”, “Flip Phillips Collates Vols. 1 & 2”, “Jumping Moods”, “Flip Phillips & Buddy Rich Trio”, “Flip Phillips Quintet (Rock With Flip)”, and the re-issue packages “Flip Wails”, “Swingin’ With Flip Phillips” and “Flip”. It features performances with some of the great names of the era - Oscar Peterson, Charlie Shavers, Barney Kessel, Ray Brown, Howard McGhee, Alvin Stoller, Buddy Rich, Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, Freddie Green, Max Roach and more – and as a bonus includes a ‘live’ jam session version of “Stompin’ At The Savoy Pt. 1”. It’s a great showcase for Flip Phillips at probably the zenith of his career.' (album notes)
Buddy Rich - Trios
(Lightyear Records) - Released: 2023
Buddy Rich (drums); Barry Kiener (piano); John Burr, Tom Warrington (bass)
'Buddy Rich - "Trios" - When Buddy Rich and his Killer Force Band were at their peak, Buddy began to feature a trio segment, often twice a night. Buddy would exclusively use brushes rather than sticks, even in his drum solos. Young prodigy pianist Barry Kiener, who soon sadly died of an accidental overdose at the age of 30 (on Buddy's tour bus), was the magnificent lead instrument. Virtuoso bassist Jon Burr completed the trio on most of the songs. These never-before released recordings are a true collector's item.' (album notes)
Thelonious Monk - The Classic Quartet
(Candid Records) - Released: 2023
Thelonious Monk (piano); Charlie Rouse (tenor sax); Butch Warren (bass); Frankie Dunlop (drums)
'At the time of this recording, Thelonious Monk was at both a creative and critical peak - He had recently signed with Columbia Records, notably one of the biggest jazz labels in the world at the time, and the following year became the third jazz musician in history to appear on the cover of Time Magazine. The Classic Quartet is comprised of Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Butch Warren on bass, and Frankie Dunlop on drums. The recording captures what is undoubtedly one of the very best sets of the era. The songs, classic Monk repertoire, will be familiar to any Monk fan. That includes what is by all accounts an exceptional version of one of Monk's favorite standards, "Just A Gigolo." This recording is the audio portion of a television show recorded in Tokyo during Monk's 1963 tour of Japan. Not to be confused with the live album of that same 1963 tour, Monk In Tokyo, released on Columbia Records. It also should be noted that the recordings here were previously released as Thelonious Monk 1963 Japan, at various times, by various labels. This version has been remastered by Award Winning Engineer Bernie Grundman. It is the first time this album has been released on vinyl in over 35 years.' (album notes)
Featured In October 2023
Rob Luft - Dahab Days
(Edition Records) - Released: 20th October 2023
Rob Luft (guitars); Joe Wright (tenor saxophone), Joe Webb (piano, Hammond organ), Tom McCredie (bass guitar); Corrie Dick (drum kit, percussion) and with Alice Zawadzki (violin, vocals), Byron Wallen (trumpet); Steve Buckley (alto saxophone, penny whistle)
".... With "Dahab Days," Luft embarks on another significant stride in his artistic journey. This album represents a notable expansion of his sound, incorporating a string quartet and reinforcing the contributions of his talented band members, who have become an integral part of his musical identity. Luft's well-deserved reputation as a versatile guitarist shines through as he delivers uplifting improvisations that evolve in hypnotic and contemporary ways, captivating listeners with their compelling and immersive qualities. The album derives its name from Dahab, a location in Egypt where much of the music was written. Over the past three years, Luft has spent considerable time there due to the Covid-19 pandemic's limitations. While not overtly drawing from the music of the region, "Dahab Days" subtly reflects the influence of his experiences in that unique setting. ..... "Dahab Days" marks a significant milestone in Rob Luft's musical journey, showcasing his artistic growth and his ability to craft captivating and contemporary compositions that resonate with audiences." (album notes)
Shear Brass - Celebrating Sir George Shearing
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 1st September 2023
Carl Gorham (drums); Jason McDermid (trumpet and arrangements); Chris Storr (trumpet), Pete Long (clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone); Alistair White (trombone); Anthony Kerr (vibes); Alec Dankworth (bass);, Arnie Somogyi (bass); Satin Singh (percussion);Sarah Moule, Louise Marshall, Natalie Williams and Romy Sipek (vocals).
'Celebrating Sir George Shearing, combines the punch of a big band with the intimacy of a small group, as this hard-swinging, highly melodic outfit showcases some of the UK's most gifted soloists. Whether reinterpreting classics such as Conception and Lullaby of Birdland or re-introducing lesser-known tunes such as Night Flight and Children's Waltz, its richly varied repertoire mirrors Shearing's own development, encompassing swing, be-bop, cool and Latin jazz, topped off with some of the most celebrated vocal numbers of the 20th century.' (album notes). 'Shear Brass is a band dedicated to playing new arrangements of the music of Sir George Shearing, my great uncle, and one of Britain’s greatest ever jazz musicians and composers.' (Carl Gorham).
Tori Freestone & Alcyona Mick - Make One Little Room an Everywhere
(self release) - Released: 30th September 2023
Tori Freestone (sax, flute, triangle, composer); Alcyona Mick (piano, composer); Brigitte Beraha (voice tracks 3, 6, 8, 9); Natacha Atlas (voice track 8)
'Stirring originals and a cover of Joni Mitchell classic 'Both Sides Now' captured in iridescent fashion by Beraha with lulling accompaniment from Alcyona plus a version of the Gershwins' 'They Can't Take That Away From Me' first recorded by Fred Astaire and Johnny Green & His Orchestra in 1937 and massively covered down the decades since are in the mix. Freestone, whose style lands pervasively in the spiritual jazz domain and whose best work includes the marvellous In The Chop House which included a trio instrumental version of 'Both Sides Now' perhaps a prologue companion listen to the new version that fans will know, was among the 12 Ivor Novello Awards winners last year at the Ivors Composer Awards. The UK saxist won in the Jazz Ensemble category for her work 'Birds Of Paradise' which was premiered at the 2021 London Jazz Festival and a version of which is also a feature on Make One Little Room an Everywhere........' (Marlbank)
Matthew Halsall - An Ever Changing View
(Gondwana Records) - Released: 8th September 2023
Matthew Halsall (trumpet, kalimba, glock, electric piano, piano, effects); Matt Cliffe, Chip Wickham (saxophone); Alice Roberts, Maddie Herbert (harp); Chris Davies (xylophone); Jasper Green (Rhodes, piano); Alan Taylor (drums); Gavin Barras (bass).
'Halsall who has been hailed as one of the leading figures of the UK jazz renaissance has never seen himself as part of any one sound or scene: he builds his own sonic universe instead. An Ever Changing View finds him at his most experimental yet, once again expanding his sound and production techniques to create his unique brand of deeply meditative music. During the album's creation, he was staying in both a beautiful architect’s house with breath-taking sea views and a striking modernist house, where he composed what he saw “like a landscape painting”. In these new environments, Halsall wanted to capture “the feeling of openness and escapism” and to approach making music again from scratch. “I hit the reset button and wanted to have complete musical freedom,” he says. “It was a real exploration of sound.” ...... (album notes).
Chris Ingham Quartet- Hoagy II
(Downhome Records) - Released: 12th June 2023
Chris Ingham (piano/vocal); Paul Higgs (trumpet); Rev. Andrew Brown (bass); George Double (drums)
'The follow-up volume to the Chris Ingham Quartet's acclaimed album Hoagy (2014). Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) is one of the most enduring and endearing songwriters from the Golden Age of the Great American Songbook. Wry, wise, sentimental and sophisticated, Hoagy’s songs are beloved for their warmth, humour and jazz-inspired melodic beauty. Nine years and dozens of live shows after our first CD Hoagy, our enthusiasm for Hoagy’s singular oeuvre is undiminished. With the second volume, we’ve continued to aim at infusing the music with the spirit of legendary jazz cornettist and Hoagy’s dear friend Bix Beiderbecke and investing even the most familiar standards with a straight-ahead freshness. Whether big hits or fascinating curiosities, these characterful gems of 20th century songcraft continue to move, delight and inspire us. Tunes we’ve played a thousand times seemed to take on a new shine while other tunes we barely knew have become new best friends.' (album notes).
Jerome Sabbagh - Vintage
(Sunnyside Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Jerome Sabbagh (tenor saxophone); Kenny Barron (piano); Joe Martin (bass); Johnathan Blake (drums)
'Saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh is an old soul. He favors spontaneity between performers on the bandstand, prefers the feel of a swinging band to heady, over-wrought music, and likes the sound of analog over digital. When it came time to work on a new project, Sabbagh wanted to record an album that would sound like a set in a club, and felt ready to look back to early influences. On Vintage, his first album as a leader featuring piano, Sabbagh enlists the piano legend Kenny Barron in his all-star quartet to help make a recording that connects generations and makes tradition vital once again. Sabbagh has become well known for his original music and genre spanning ensembles, including those featuring electric guitarists Ben Monder and Greg Tuohey. Sabbagh also has an ear for the tradition. One of his seminal early jazz experiences came when he was a teenager and got to hear Stan Getz in Paris. Kenny Barron was Getz’s accompanist that evening and Sabbagh was taken immediately, standing outside the back door to get Getz and Barron’s autographs after the show..........' (album notes).
James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet - For Mahalia, With Love
(Tao Forms Records) - Released: 8th September 2023
James Brandon Lewis (tenor saxophone); Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Chris Hoffmann (cello); William Parker (bass); Chad Taylor: (drums).
'For Mahalia, With Love' is the highly anticipated new album by award-winning tenor saxophonist-composer James Brandon Lewis & his Red Lily Quintet, following on their groundbreaking and poll-sweeping 'Jesup Wagon'. This powerful work reimagines songs made famous by the gospel icon who galvanized a nation with her voice. Whereas Lewis used his transformative talents to newly illuminate renaissance man George Washington Carver on Jesup Wagon, the saxophonist does the same here for gospel-music force of nature Mahalia Jackson. And this time it’s personal, because Lewis lived her music growing up, nurtured by a grandmother who had received Mahalia’s singing like a bolt from above. Much more than a tribute, this work is “really a three-way conversation between Mahalia, my grandmother and me.” The challenge was to turn these songs into jazz, the 21st century variety. What James and the band [ William Parker-bass, Chad Taylor-drums, Kirk Knuffke-cornet, Chris Hoffman-cello ] conjure with this music is miraculous........ (album notes).
Joel Harrison - Anthem Of Unity
(Savant Records / High Note Records) - Released: 2023
Joel Harrison (guitar); Greg Tardy (tenor saxophone, flute); Gary Versace (Hammond B-3 organ, piano); Jack DeJohnette: (drums).
'Guitarist Joel Harrison's 25th CD, 'Anthem of Unity', brings together a once-in-a-lifetime ensemble that showcases his most pointed and focused work as a jazz musician yet. The team of Gary Versace, with his virtuosic and soul-drenched B-3 organ, Greg Tardy, one of our finest jazz woodwind players, and the legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette, exhibits extraordinary musicianship in a program of six Harrison originals, Sonny Rollins' "Doxy," and Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Tardy shows the range of his considerable abilities here, developing interesting ideas and phrases throughout his many solos. Versace has been about everywhere at this point, with giants such as Maria Schneider, the late John Abercrombie, Kurt Elling, Al Foster, and he anchors the bottom end on the Hammond as DeJohnette continually ignites the band. This is a blowing session, at times tender and at times volcanic, whose interplay and organic, visceral power is palpable from the first to last tune.' (album notes).
Ingrid Laubrook - Monochromes
(Intakt Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano saxophone); Jon Irabagon (sopranino saxophone); Zeena Parkins (electric harp); Tom Rainey (drums).
'Saxophonist and composer Ingrid Laubrock is at the center of today‘s Brooklyn avant-garde, and over the past decade has steadily expanded her reach as a composer, devising new ways to inspire, organize, and situate improvised music. Intakt Records has released several of her most impressive compositional works, including two orchestral recordings, Contemporary Chaos Practices (2018) and Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (2020). Monochromes marks a new chapter in her oeuvre, as she has written and designed richly detailed fixed-media works as a starting point for improvisations. “In early 2020, just before the pandemic shut down the world, she began to record the sonic materials that would serve as the fixed media in the piece. Laubrock asked a handful of close collaborators to realize her scores, which mix conventional and graphic notation with text instructions. In each of the four sections of the uninterrupted work (or monochromes), seriously kinetic, shape-shifting tape pieces unfurl, giving a set of additional improvisers an often unpredictable sonic provocation”, writes Peter Margasak in the liner notes. With Monochromes, Ingrid Laubrock presents an artistic statement that reflects the turbulence of an age gone off the rails. A masterpiece!' (album notes).
Aaron Diehl & The Knights - The Zodiac Suite
(Mack Avenue Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Aaron Diehl (piano); David Wong (bass); Aaron Kimmel (drums); Special Guests: Evan Christopher (clarinet track 3); Nicole Glover ( tenor saxophone track 4); Brandon Lee (trumpet tracks 6, 7); Mikaela Bennett (soprano track 12). The Knights (see Details below)
'Critically acclaimed pianist and composer Aaron Diehl's passion for the work of Mary Lou Williams is realized with the release of Zodiac Suite -- the first fully-fledged professional recording of this incredible arrangement. Composed, arranged and orchestrated by Williams, this recording gives insight into her greater ambitions for the work, despite setbacks she faced during its premiere in 1945. Diehl and The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen, showcase the composer’s imagination and vision in a suite dedicated to some of her closest friends and collaborators.' (album notes)
Europe and Elsewhere
Dan Pitt Trio - Stages
(Self Release) - Released: 8th September 2023
Dan Pitt (guitar); Alex Fournier (double bass); Nick Fraser (drums).
'Dan Pitt it a guitarist, composer and improviser based in Toronto with focus in improvised music ranging from a multitude of genres such as jazz, folk, rock, pop and contemporary music. “Stages” is the fourth release of guitarist Dan Pitt and the second album of his main trio project.Building on a strong jazz foundation, the music on this album combines influences of ambient, rock and chambered music. Woven together with collective and individual improvisation and interpretation of composed material.' (album notes)
Sinekka Langeland - Wind And Sun
(ECM Records) - Released: 8th September 2023
Sinikka Langeland (voice, kantele, Jew’s harp); Trygve Seim (tenor and soprano saxophone); Mathias Eick (trumpet); Mats Eilertssen (bass); Thomas Strønen (drums).
“Being in a room with Sinikka Langeland is like being charmed into a northern forest under a night sky,” wrote Fiona Talkington in Songlines. “Her presence and her voice are magical, but when she plays her kantele you can almost feel nature itself quivering with joy.” The expressive arc of Sinikka’s music extends from the archaic to the experimental. Rooted in folk forms but wide-open in its perspectives it demands – and on Wind and Sun gets – particularly resourceful interpreters. Langeland’s new group is an optimum assembly of Norwegian musicians, each of them an ECM bandleader in his own right, all of them contributing ideas to the ongoing musical conversation – and, as Sinikka says, “taking things further in their incredible improvised solos.” For her song texts this time, Sinikka turns to the writings of poet and novelist Jon Fosse, one of Norway’s most important contemporary authors. Fosse has described the process of writing as “an act of listening” and wrestles with questions of faith in his work in a way that resonates with Sinikka’s fascination with “natural mysticism”. Wind and Sun, Sinikka Langeland’s seventh ECM album, was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in September 2022 and mixed at Munich’s Bavaria Tonstudio in March 2023. (album notes)
Maciej Obara Quartet - Frozen Silence
(ECM Records) - Released: 8th September 2023
Maciej Obara (alto saxophone); Dominik Wania (piano); Ole Morten Vagan (bass); Gard Nilssen (drums).
'Frozen Silence is the third ECM release from alto saxophonist Maciej Obara’s Polish-Norwegian quartet bringing the story forward from Unloved and Three Crowns – and perhaps its strongest musical statement to date. Alert interactivity is the hallmark of the group’s approach in a programme of new Obara compositions inspired by the starkly dramatic landscapes of the mountainous Karkonosze region in south-west Poland. All four players make decisive contributions to the music. The pieces optimally highlight Maciej’s intuitive musical relationship with pianist Dominik Wania, while bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Gard Nilssen continually transcend rhythm section roles to inject powerful ideas of their own. The album was recorded in Oslo in June 2022.' (album notes).
Mulgrew Miller - Solo In Barcelona
(Storyville Records) - Released: 18th August 2023
Mulgrew Miller (piano)
' ....The occasion of a present-day release of a solo recording by this remarkable musician is a very rare and extraordinary occasion. This album, which was recorded on February 2, 2004 in Barcelona, is truly a rare gem for the admirers of a man and piano player, who was loved by so many fans and the entire jazz global community. With his unique take on arrangements from Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Cole Porter, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, MM shows us why he is considered a modern legend. On this solo album, MM's piano embarks on an extraordinary musical journey. With each note, he effortlessly paints a vivid tapestry of emotions, traversing a rich musical landscape that spans genres and styles characterized by versatility, proficient soloing and tasteful restraint. He plays like a modern-day exponent of Art Tatum with the deepest musical roots, but with the freshest, most forward-thinking, profoundly original voice that’s uniquely his own. Live in Barcelona shows how he is able to tell us a story and swing like very few others. A real master on the piano. The highlight is perhaps his ‘Excursions in Blue’, playing the blues like it should be done - in the moment! ....... (album notes).
Charles Mingus - Mingus (Remastered)
(Candid Records) - Released: 2023
Charles Mingus (bass); Ted Curson, Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet); Jimmy Knepper, Britt Woodman (trombone); Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet); Charles McPherson (alto sax); Booker Ervin (tenor sax); Nico Bunink, Paul Bley (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums)
'At the time of this recording, Mingus had been working regularly with the piano-less quartet of Eric Dolphy, Ted Curson and Dannie Richmond - The same group featured on the 1960 Candid release, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. The Mingus album, also recorded that year, features one track, "Stormy Weather," recorded with that same quartet, and two tracks recorded with a larger group featuring piano and additional horns. Of note, "MDM (Monk Duke & Me)" consumes the majority of this album. The piece consists of three intertwining themes - Duke Ellington's "Main Stem", Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser", and Mingus' "Fifty First Street Blues." Released in 1961, and recorded in the fall of 1960 by Candid A&R and Producer Nate Hentoff at the Nola Penthouse Sound Studios. The LP includes extraordinary liner notes written by Hentoff, giving a context and insight that adds to the experience of hearing these magnificent performances.' (album notes).
Jean-Luc Ponty - Open Mind
(MPS) - Released: 2023
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin, synthesizer, drum machine); with guests Chick Corea (piano) and George Benson (electric guitar)
'Legendary drummer Kenny Clarke compared Jean-Luc Ponty to Dizzy Gillespie. Fellow violinist Stuff Smith marveled, "He plays violin like Coltrane plays saxophone." Born in 1942, the French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty transported jazz violin playing into the world of modern jazz. On Frank Zappa's urging, Ponty moved to the States in 1970. Over the next years he toured with Zappa, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Chick Corea's "Return to Forever". If Ponty's 1983 album Individual Choice was the sketchbook of his decision to take his music in a new direction, Open Mind (1984), released the following year, was a deeper exploration of the emerging world of synthesizers and sequencers and their impact on live and studio performance. Here, complex rhythmic patterns shift in the background while new sounds appear and disappear on the surface in colorful bursts, and outstanding jazz improvisors create familiar music in new settings. It's almost an audio version of a kinetic wind sculpture. Ponty chose to use a Roland rhythm machine instead of faking real drum and percussion sounds and played all the keyboard parts himself in order to further explore the concept he had introduced in Individual Choice. He additionally asked two longtime friends to solo on various tracks: George Benson, whom JLP had met and played with when they were both 21 years old, and Chick Corea, who excels on two tracks with his Moog synthesizer. Open Mind has been re-mastered by 2023 Grammy Nominee Christoph Stickeland includes new liner notes.' (album notes)
Gene Krupa - Drummin' Man : Hits and Classic Recordings 1938-1950
(Acrobat) - Released: 2023 [2 CDs]
Gene Krupa (drums) with various personnel
'Gene Krupa was one of the most admired and influential drummers in the history of jazz, with his impact extending into the pop era, not least through his effective defining of the make-up of the modern drum kit. As a drummer and bandleader in the swing and big band eras of the late 1930s and ‘40s, he became known for what the New York Times called his “frenzied, flashy” drumming which was revolutionary in its day, and elevated the rile of the drummer from pure accompanist to being an important solo voice in the band. This 48-track 2-CD collection features all his 27 career hits on the Brunswick, Columbia, Okeh and RCA-Victor labels, plus selected renowned recordings from across this era. It includes his Top 10 hits “It All Comes Back To Me Now”, “High On A Windy Hill”, “Just A Little Bit South Of North Carolina”, “Along The Navajo Trail”, “Chickery Chick” and “Bonaparte's Retreat”. There are performances by his noted female vocalists Irene Day and Anita O’Day, and by his other featured vocalists Jerry Kruger, Howard Dulaney, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Desmond, Carolyn Grey and Bobby Scots. It offers a fascinating cross-section of his recordings, from the more mainstream pop material that comprised many of his hits to the hard-hitting big band jazz for which he was especially renowned, and it’s an entertaining showcase for his music.' (album notes)
Featured In September 2023
Henry Spencer and Juncture - The Defector
(33 Jazz Records) - Released: 29th September 2023
Henry Spencer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ant Law (guitar); Matt Robinson (piano, Fender Rhodes); Andrew Robb (bass); David Ingamells (drums); John Garner (violin); Marie Schreer (violin); Lydia Abell (viola); Colin Alexander (cello)
"The soldier deserter from an army committing war crimes. The partner that leaves their abusive relationship for a freer life. The politician who actively challenges and leaves their party to protect democracy. The North Korean dissident that chooses the life-threatening endangerment of attempting to escape, crossing the border into a completely unknown world, rather than stay living with dictatorship, tyranny and oppression, the violation of human rights and freedom of expression. I’m unable to fully relate to, or describe, these defectors’ suffering and bravery in the face of extreme danger, but I’m inspired by, and have a deep admiration for their moral courage, strength and determination to improve their situation and help others around them. As much as I fail, I think it’s worthwhile and honourable to emulate, even slightly, these qualities in our own ordinary lives. I’m most interested in music that’s driven by sincere emotional intent and deals with genuine experience. I want to draw in the listener so they engage with the music, relating it to their own personal experience - with as much emotive clarity as if the music had lyrics. It’s an outlet, a release.” (album notes)
Ian Shaw - Greek Street Friday
(Silent Wish Records) - Released: 1st September 2023
Ian Shaw (vocals); Jamie Safir (piano); Iain Ballamy (saxophone); David Preston (guitar); Ian Thomas (drums)
'Soulful, funky and bold, ‘Greek Street Friday’ draws inspiration from Shaw’s early musical and lyrical influences — Bowie, Steely Dan, Al Jarreau, early Elton John, Billy Joel – to create 11 autobiographical portraits of people and places: 1980s London, New York, loving and losing, basement bars, poets, friendships, lovers, near-escapes and far-away places. As an “utterly brilliant” (Time Out) mainstay of the British music and comedy circuit, Ian has never been one to conceal an often-outspoken view on injustice and equality and details his personal experiences for audiences to share. ‘Greek Street Friday’ sees him do so with typical poetic frankness, as well as pay homage to friends and icons, and muse on our place in a complicated world. Whilst the album’s main focus is a collection of partially autobiographical vignettes, Ian has also chosen to include a new take on a favourite song from one of his musical idols, ‘Blinded By The Hunt’ by Rickie Lee Jones. The first single, ‘To Be Held,’ has its title inspired by a Truman Capote interview with Dick Cavett, and which later expands into a beautiful tribute to lost friends, the power of connections, imperfections and navigating the strangeness and beauty of being alive on what Ian describes as “this beaten-up planet of ours”. (album notes)
SWIFT - In Another Lifetime
(Swift Records) - Released: 22nd September 2022
Hugh John (keyboards); Larry Dundas (guitar, programming); John McCullough (bass, vocals); Brendan O’Neil (drums, percussion, lead vocals) guest musicians: Derek O’Connor (tenor sax); Frank Mead (tenor sax, soprano sax, harmonica, vocals); Linley Hamilton (trumpet); Michael Buckley (tenor sax, soprano sax); Jennifer and Katherine O’Neill (vocals)
'In Another Lifetime’ has been 40 years in the making. Brendan, Hugh, Larry, and John formed Swift in 1976. Stylistic diversity has always characterised Swift’s music; radical shifts occurring in the same piece, each composition different to the last. With John Sanderson on saxes and flute, SWIFT was selected as the ‘Greater London Arts Association’s Young Jazz Musicians, 1977,’ and for two years played extensively in London, with occasional tours to Holland, the rest of the UK, and Ireland. Recording opportunities were limited and in 1979, the band went out on a high, supporting John McLaughlin at the Rainbow Theatre, London, (this time with Pete Thomas on saxes). In June 2020, trumpeter, Dr Linley Hamilton acquired copies of SWIFT demos from that other lifetime, and began playing them on his show, ‘Jazz World’ on BBC Radio Ulster. Linley’s enthusiasm revitalised the band and in the midst of a pandemic, Swift began to record remotely with Larry overseeing the programming. Additional musicians were needed. Not only did Linley step up, three of Europe’s finest horn players also offered their services: Michael Buckley, Frank Mead, and Derek O’Connor, while Katherine and Jennifer O’Neill of INDIAN QUEENS provided backing vocals. By July 2022, the album was complete. The band feels it was worth the wait; we hope you agree.' (album notes)
Johnny Hunter, Mark Hanslip, Olie Brice - Divisions
(Discus Music) - Released: 27th July 2023
Johnny Hunter (drums); Mark Hanslip (tenor saxophone); Olie Brice (double bass)
'A suite of four new compositions from Johnny Hunter, performed beautifully, stylishly, and most creatively by this trio of great players. The music treads a fine line between free jazz and free improvisation, areas where these musicians live easily and naturally. By turns exciting, textural, sensual, joyously cool. Johnny writes "The recording came off the back of the trio's tour where they were performing purely Free Improvisation. The interest is in how they would now treat some composed material. The simple but strong melodies provide a stark contrast to the freedom experienced during the improvisation.". (album notes)
Dee Byrne - Outlines
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 23rd June 2023
Dee Byrne (alto saxophone); Nick Malcolm (trumpet); Tom Ward (clarinets); Rebecca Nash (piano); Olie Brice (double bass); Andrew Lisle (drums)
'Dee Byrne is an artist swimming freely in a sea of creative possibilities. Her Entropi project established her reputation as a fearless explorer of the interface between composition and improvisation, structure and freedom, driven by a constant urge to create. To reconnect with the roots of that urge, she took a deep dive into her own process, using visual art as a medium to unlock fresh approaches to composition. The results can be heard on her latest Whirlwind release, and seen on the cover art: Outlines is a set of nine pieces for a specially assembled sextet of some of the UK’s most adventurous and genre-busting musicians. Bassist Olie Brice, drummer Andrew Lisle and piano/keyboard player Rebecca Nash are all bandleaders in their own right, capable of navigating the complexities of Byrne’s complex multi-modal compositions while allowing the spontaneity to flow freely: Tom Ward’s collection of clarinets and Nick Malcolm’s trumpet complete the frontline with Dee’s alto sax, spinning tales and painting pictures. “There are a lot of strong, deep musical and personal relationships in this band - the sort that can’t be fast-tracked. It’s a real band!” Dee describes the writing process: ‘I decided to peel everything back to the basics of being creative. I started drawing and set rules for myself, retraining my mind to stop criticising - to follow impulse without being attached to outcome! Then I applied the same approach to writing music - they’re genuine musical sketches!’ Collecting together the musical fragments, she assembled them into compositions that could move easily from carefully structured written parts into free improvisation and back again. ‘Capsule’ encapsulates this approach: like a time pod of artefacts launched into space, with the horns’ unison shifting and fragmenting over the insistent bassline ........' (album notes)
Emma Rawicz - Chroma
(ACT Records) - Released: 25th August 2023
Emma Rawicz (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet); Ivo Neame(piano); Ant Law (guitar); Conor Chaplin (upright and electric bass);
Asaf Sirkis (drums and vocals); Immy Churchill (vocals)
“An astonishing new talent” - Jamie Cullum At the age of just twenty-one, Emma Rawicz has already sown many of the important seeds for a major career. She clearly can be considered a part of the wave of Young British Jazz that has been making its mark worldwide. The North Devon-born saxophonist, whose Polish surname comes from her Warsaw-born grandfather, who settled in the UK during World War 2, has already led her band for several international festival appearances, single- handedly negotiated and managed a seventeen-concert UK tour for her quintet and recently founded her own big band. She has headlined at Ronnie Scott’s, won the award for Newcomer Of The Year at the 2022 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, she has a Jazz FM Awards nomination to her name, as well as being a finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician com-petition. ‘Chroma., her ACT debut, marks a new and important step. The album title, ‘Chroma’ (the Greek word for colour or paint), is very significant: Emma Rawicz is a synesthete, in other words, she involuntarily and simultaneously experiences music through a second sensory pathway, colour. “I can’t do anything else while listening to music because there is always a sensory overload going on as I Iisten,” she says. All of the tracks, with one exception, are named after relatively little-known colours. The band is mostly made up of the kind of in-demand UK players whom one finds in many contexts .....The less-known name on ‘Chroma’ is Emma’s friend from the same student cohort, vocalist Immy Churchill, another rising star. Rawicz: “Immy has an incredibly wide range of influences from a whole range of songwriters to being deeply into the jazz tradition. She has the knowledge and the open mind to walk into any musical situation without knowledge of the context, and bring her own voice to it.”
Evan Parker / Matthew Wright, Trance Map + - Etching The Ether
(Intakt Records) - Released: 18th August 2023
Evan Parker (soprano saxophone); Matthew Wright (live electronics and sound ); Peter Evans (trumpet and piccolo trumpet); Mark Nauseef (percussions).
'Trance Map+ is an electro-acoustic formation in constant motion. Founded by electronic musician, turntable player and sound designer Matt Wright and saxophonist Evan Parker, the band is in a constant process of transformation, renewal and expansion, both conceptually and also due to fluctuations in personnel. Etching the Ether features star trumpeter Peter Evans and percussionist Mark Nauseef. This new musical adventure began with a trio recording by Parker, Wright and Evans, with Evan Parker asking Mark Nauseef for “intro, interludes and a coda”, material which was added in post-production. “What arises in the process is a determinedly plural space, a temporal cubism, a dream time that’s omnidirectional. Reverb is less an effect than a new relationship, echoing ‘back’ as it moves forward”, (Stuart Broomer in the liner notes).
Russ Johnson Quartet - Reveal
(Calligram Records) - Released: 4th August 2023
Russ Johnson (trumpet); Mark Feldman (violin); Ethan Philion (bass); Timothy Daisy (drums)
'From the opening intervals of “Skips,” trumpeter and composer Russ Johnson’s Reveal makes good on the promise inherent in the album’s title. Slyly unveiling interconnected themes and infectious grooves, the chord-less quartet — an unusual front-line of Johnson’s trumpet and Mark Feldman’s violin with drummer Timothy Daisy and bassist Ethan Philion — revels in a vast palette of sonic combinations and permutations. Along the way Johnson and his associates navigate an impressive range of material, from the funky odd-meter groove that suddenly emerges in “Skips” to a masterful plunger elegy for Jamie Branch (“The Long Branch”) and a synthesis of the structured freedom of the AACM with lush post-Romantic harmonies (“The Slow Reveal”). “My entire career has been built on playing music in the cracks between ‘modern jazz’ and more ‘improvised’ musics, says Johnson. “I do not draw a distinction between the two.” Johnson is significantly aided and abetted in blurring genre lines by Mark Feldman, an equally omnivorous and versatile artist and a recent Chicago transplant after decades as a mainstay on the Downtown NYC scene. “Mark is obviously one of the great violinists and improvisors of our time,” says Johnson. “We met in New York, but only played together a couple of times. When Mark moved to Chicago, I knew I had to create a new project around him.” Feldman and Johnson are both consummate listeners and intrepid explorers on the bandstand and off. Well-versed in the traditional and extended techniques of their respective instruments, they at moments make it delightfully difficult to tell who is playing what. The improvised trio “TRM” (Timothy-Russ-Mark) is pointillistic testament to this; listen to the other-worldly final minute of “Coda” for a lyrical, contrasting sample of their intertwining sounds....... (album notes)
Johnathan Blake - Passage
(Blue Note Records) - Released: 4th August 2023
Immanuel Wilkins (alto saxophone); Joel Ross (vibraphone); David Virelles (piano); Dezron Douglas (bass); Johnathan Blake (drums).
'Johnathan Blake follows up his acclaimed 2021 Blue Note debut 'Homeward Bound' with 'Passage', that once again features his band Pentad (Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Joel Ross on vibraphone, David Virelles on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass). Dedicated to the memory of his father John Blake Jr. whose stirring composition 'Passage' gives the album its title, the 10-track album also features five new originals by Blake, as well as pieces by Douglas, Virelles, and Blake's drum teacher and mentor Ralph Peterson Jr.' (album notes)
Sara Serpa & André Matos - Night Birds
(Robato Music) - Released: 29th September 2023
Sara Serpa (vocals), André Matos (guitar), Dov Manski (piano); Okkyung Lee (cello); João Pereira (drums); Sofia Jernberg (vocals)
'Night Birds marks the duo's triumphant return to recording after a seven-year hiatus and captures their uncanny musical connection. The mesmerizing tracks on Night Birds include original compositions, improvisations and a Bartok bagatelle, all showcasing Serpa's distinctive singing and Matos' sonic landscapes. Serpa is widely acclaimed as one of the premier vocalists of her generation and was crowned the 2020 Vocalist of the Year by NPR. Matos has been praised as “one of the kings of melody..." by the New York Music Daily. Together, their music has been described as “decidedly otherworldly and totally original” (The Classical Arts) and “a perfect musical union” (O Público). The dozen tracks on Night Birds reflect on the fast-paced societies of the modern world, questioning the consumption and exploitation of natural ecosystems. Serpa’s distinctive singing and Matos’ spectacular sonic landscapes are enhanced by original and creative artists in jazz and improvised music including Brooklyn-based pianist Dov Manski, South-Korean avant-garde cellist Okkyung Lee (John Zorn, Nels Cline, Chris Corsano, and Thurston Moore), Ethiopian-Swedish experimental vocalist Sofia Jernberg (Fire! Orchestra, Mette Rasmussen), Portuguese up-and-coming drummer João Pereira, and on two tracks, Serpa and Matos’ child Lourenço. At turns magic, dazzling and calm, the duo’s unique sonic world draws on pure, contemplative sounds and takes a personal approach to melody and poetry. Their musical identity is informed by their Portuguese culture and the creative artistic environment of New York' (album notes)
Europe and Elsewhere
Bebel Gilberto - João
(PIAS Recordings) - Released: August 2023
Bebel Gilberto (vocals) with various personnel including Guilherme Monteiro (guitar)
'Bebel Gilberto will release her new album in August 2023 via [PIAS] Recordings. Entitled “João”, the album is a collection of songs made famous by her father João Gilberto, widely regarded as the “father of Bossa Nova music. João Gilberto passed away in 2019 after a 70 year career in music. Bebel began singing with him as a small child and the songs she sings on this new album have been with her all her life. Says Bebel- "João" is a love letter to my father. Since my first album I've never really covered any of my Dad's music. Now it's time to present to the public the songs from João Gilberto that have influenced me since I was born- and even before”. The release of the “João” album will be followed by a world tour with dates here (including London on 22nd October).' (album notes)
Grievous Bodily Calm - Cascades
(self release) - Released: 4th August 2023
Alex Reid (drums, percussion); Josiah Padmanabham (keys, guitars); Zac Grafton (bass, synth bass);Matthew McGlynn (trumpet); Thomas Manson (keys)
'Grievous Bodily Calm are a five-piece instrumental band from Perth, Western Australia. Their genre-blending signature instrumental sound and high energy live show infuses IDM, beat music and jazz improvisation with modern electronic production and has seen them share stages with acts such as Tame Impala, Black Midi, The Avalanches, Hiatus Kaiyote, Mulatu Astatke and more. less.' (album notes)
Enrico Pieranunzi - Chet Remembered
(Challenge Records) - Released: 2023
Enrico Pieranunzi (piano); Bert Joris (trumpet) with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band
'In this tribute to the famous Chet Baker, Enrico Pieranunzi continues his collaboration with Bert Joris for their second album together on Challenge Records. "This CD has a very special meaning for me. Remembering Chet takes me back to 1979 when I first met him. That meeting would soon prove to be a turning point in my musical life. Playing together, sharing concerts or recording sessions with him allowed me to be in close contact with an artist of rare jazz experience who caused an enormous change in my playing. Many of the tunes on this CD come from those important years of collaboration. Among them are Soft Journey, Fairy Flowers and Brown Cat Dance, which I composed expressly for Chet and which, like Night bird, are included in "Soft Journey", recorded at the end of 1979, just after our first meeting. The opening track, From E. to C., as the title clearly suggests, is a dedication to Chet and also dates to our first period of collaboration, whereas Echoes was recorded later in 1987, as a part of "Silence," a CD under Charlie Haden's name. There is, however, much else that deserves to be highlighted on this CD. For instance, the fact that "Chet Remembered" was conceived and realized in tandem with Bert Joris, a wonderful trumpet player in whose playing there are clear traces of Chet's style, reworked in a very personal way. I can say that, although we play different instruments, Chet's influence has determined a sort of stylistic "brotherhood" in our approach to improvisation, an affinity that is one of the distinctive elements of this CD. ..... Among the countless, excellent examples of his latter quality I would like to highlight here the harmonisation and orchestration of the solo on Soft Journey, which Chet improvised on the 1979 album of the same name (track 4, between 2'03" and 3'43"). A typical, wonderfully melodic Chet solo that I personally transcribed a few hours after Chet had improvised and recorded it. After so many years, it is so nice to listen to this solo here in the lush, refined big band version set up by Bert. Definitely a fine way to remember and honour Chet's improvisational mastery.......' (album notes)
Tubby Hayes - No Blues : The Complete Hopbine '65
(Jazz In Britain) - Released: 12th June 2023
Tubby Hayes, Tommy Whittle (tenor saxophone); Kenny Powell (piano); Ron Mathewson (bass); Dick Brennan (drums)
“He said ‘who the fuck are you?” so I said, “I’m the bass player”. And all he said was “Well, we’ll see about that, won’t we?” When Tubby Hayes arrived at the Hopbine, Wembley’s popular jazz pub, one evening in the spring of 1965, his career was in a state of flux; still topping polls and casting an impressive shadow over the British jazz scene, he nevertheless remained frustrated. The elongated free-flights of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins now held his fascination and although actively searching for musicians who matched this enthusiasm he was drawing blank after blank. Yet on this night a young bassist, just turned twenty-one, unexpectedly caught his attention with playing as precocious as it was inventive. Then a sideman with the mainstream Alex Welsh band Ron Mathewson had been booked to ‘dep’ for Hopbine’s regular bassman Len Skeat, and knew full well how demanding Hayes could be. But on this night, he ticked every box the saxophonist could imagine – time, taste, tone, but above all a driving swing that might otherwise have been simply another backroom boozer blow into a session for the ages. And it was caught on tape too, Mathewson treasuring a reel which captured a genuine moment of UK jazz history. Oft-bootlegged and commercially issued in incomplete form back in 2005 (an album long since out of print) this historic set now receives the characteristic Jazz In Britain treatment in this new limited edition deluxe double-CD release........ (album notes).
Mel Tormé - Four Classic Albums
(Avid Jazz) - Released: 2023
Mel Tormé (vocals) with various personnel
'AVID Jazz continues with its Four Classic Album series with a re-mastered second 2CD set release from Mel Tormé, complete with original artwork, liner notes and personnel details. "It's A Blue World"; "Sings Fred Astaire"; "California Suite (1957 version)" and "Back In Town". What a great voice this guy had! Don't let the square looks fool you, this fellow was cool. Mel had been a child prodigy and went on to write his first hit at the age of sixteen when his song "Lament In Love" was recorded by Harry James. In the early 1940s he drummed for the Chico Marx band and later formed a vocal group, The Mel –Tones which would become an influence on later jazz vocal groups such as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, The Four Freshmen and Manhattan Transfer. By 1947 he had begun his solo career as a jazz singer and in the mid 1950s began a highly successful collaboration with Marty Paich. For our long awaited second set by the man affectionately known as "The Velvet Fog" we find Mel once again in collaboration with Marty Paich across all four of our fine selections and also we will hear the man singing with his old band The Mel-Tones.' (album notes)
Ethel Waters - Stormy Weather : All The Hits and More - 1921-47
(Acrobat Records) - Released: 2023
Ethel Waters (vocals) with various personnel
'Ethel Waters was a singer and actress from Pennsylvania, whose music ranged across jazz, stage musicals, movies and pure pop in a career that spanned more than three decades. During the 1920s and ‘30s she recorded what were among the original versions of some of the most memorable standards of the era. Having performed as a child in vaudeville, she started her recording career at the dawn of the jazz age around the time she became a huge attraction on Broadway. This great-value 70-track 3-CD collection includes recordings from across her active career as a hit-focused recording artist before she turned her attention to TV. It comprises selected releases during this era on the Black Swan, Columbia, Brunswick, Decca, Bluebird and RCA labels, and features all her twenty-six career hits, including the No. 1s “Stormy Weather” and “Am I Blue”, and other notable classics. It includes performances with Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Clarence Williams, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Ben Selvin, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Bunny Berigan, Benny Carter and many others. She was one of the great song stylists of her era, and a unique personality, and this collection is a fabulous showcase for her distinctive talents.' (album notes)
Bob Crosby And His Orchestra - All The Hits And More : 1935-1951
(Acrobat Records) - Released: 2023
Bob Crosby And His Orchestra with various personnel
'Bob Crosby was the younger brother of renowned singer Bing Crosby, and made his own way in the music business as a vocalist and bandleader, having a string of more than forty hits which spanned the era covered by this collection, especially as leader of his well-known band The Bob Cats and in later years as a solo singer. This excellent-value 50-track 2-CD collection comprises all Bob Crosby’s forty and more career hits, with his orchestra, with The Bob Cats and as solo singer and duettist, plus selected other noted A&B sides on Decca from this era. It features his No. 1 hits “In A Gypsy Tearoom”, “Whispers In The Dark” and “Day In, Day Out”, and his other Top 3 hits “Over The Rainbow”, “Lilacs In The Rain”, “With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair” and “Down Argentina Way”. Also included are famous jazz-focused pieces like “South Rampart Street Parade”, “Big Noise From Winnetka” and "March Of The Bob Cats” and his theme tune “Summertime” along with hits with other classics from the era like “Two Sleepy People”, “Let It Snow!”, “Goody Goody”, “A Foggy Day” and “Play A Simple Melody”. It features Crosby himself on vocals, with performances also by his featured vocalists Frank Tennille, Kay Weber, Eddie Miller, Marian Mann, Nappy Lamare, Helen Ward, Teddy Grace and Marion Morgan, plus vocal duets with Patty Andrews and Georgia Gibbs. It’s an entertaining selection of his most popular recordings.' (album notes)
Featured in August 2023
'Linley Hamilton’s legendary hospitality has been enjoyed by a growing cohort of international jazz musicians whenever they visit at his Magy’s Farm venue-cum-homestead deep in his native Ulster within sight of the mountains of Mourne. His tireless efforts as a promoter, radio host, educator and all round champion of the music are so effective that his main gig as a trumpeter and composer is sometimes overlooked. 'Ginger’s Hollow' places Linley the musician back in the spotlight where he belongs, at the helm of a transatlantic team to present an album of pure musical good vibes. Under his leadership, Dublin-based pianist/composer Cian Boylan and first call session saxophonist Derek ‘Doc’ O’Connor are reunited with US legends Adam Nussbaum on drums and Pat Metheny/Gil Evans sideman Mark Egan on bass, and the mutual respect and sheer good fellowship that they share comes through loud and clear in this set of original tunes with the emphasis on openness, accessibility, and positivity...........' (album notes).